8 Books That Helped Me Take Charge of My Own Health

8 Books copy

What should I eat? How do I exercise?

Should I count calories or not? How can I deal with all my stress?

Should I meditate? See a Chiropractor? Take a pill? Talk to a Naturopath? Never see a doctor again?

When is it time to give up?

What does health mean for me?


The only one of those questions I can actually answer is the last one. Health, for me, is like happiness — it is a constant journey and not a destination. Some days it seems like the easiest thing to manage, and some days it is hard fought and I am still not successful.

There is no magic recipe I can tell you that will make you Wake Up and Be Healthy. It is something that will always take work, and also strangely enough will evolve as you pursue it — but mostly because WE evolve. And this is the most frustrating as well as exciting thing! Sometimes what worked yesterday, isn’t quite so relevant tomorrow.

That is exactly why the books that have helped me the most aren’t “Here is the magic secret” type books. Rather they are books that have given me solid strategies that I have relied on all along the way. Rather than telling you to run and out in buy a book that will give you a road map, I thought I’d share 8 books that may help you become a become more of an equipped adventurer!

In some ways these books have really anchored me over the years of my adult life. Some might not even seem directly related to health! But all have shaped my philosophy on personal wellness, and also being human — which in turn has allowed me to take responsibility and positively affect my own health. Maybe one or two will meet you wherever you are on your own healthy journey?


You can heal your life1. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

Book Jacket Line That Drew Me In:

> Life Is Really Very Simple. What We Give Out, We Get Back

When I Read This

In my early twenties while living in LA, naturally.

Major Takeaways

This book is hippy-dippy and touchy-feel TO THE MAX. But it honestly helped me have one of the biggest realizations that I have ever had in my life: You are the only person who ascribes meaning to things in your life. Think about how powerful that is, really. Louise Hay is such a powerful proponent of personal healing, and while the book is a little left of center, she has absolutely been a beacon of light in some dark times in my life. Times where I may have let stress get the best of me and my health. Definitely worth reading if you need a pick me up.


taking charge2. Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler

Book Jacket Line That Drew Me In:

For any woman unhappy with her current method of birth control; demoralized by her quest to have a baby; or experiencing confusing symptoms in her cycle, this book provides answers to all these questions, plus amazing insights into a woman’s body.

When I Read This

When deciding to ditch hormonal birth control since I had a nagging feeling it wasn’t helping my pursuit of good health.

Major Takeaways

It is one thing to not want to have a baby at a particular time, and it is quite another to mess with your body’s natural cycles to do so. I’m not saying that hormonal birth control is a terrible thing (IT’S NOT) but I took it continually for 15 years without really having any idea about my own body worked and that there were other ways. This book was so informative to me. I always thought fertility was only relevant if you wanted to have a baby. When I put this book down I really understood what a HUGE indicator of health our fertility is. I wish I could have known and understood that my entire life, instead of learning in my early 30s.


anatomy of the spirit3. Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing by Caroline Myss

Book Jacket Line That Drew Me In:

Based on fifteen years of research into energy medicine, Dr. Myss’s work shows how every illness corresponds to a pattern of emotional and psychological stresses, beliefs, and attitudes that have influenced corresponding areas of the human body.

When I Read This

I read this book when I was 20 and still reeling from my father’s death. (Also, living in LA. Yep, my crunchy phase again! Who knew all those experimental ideas would resonate for so many years!) When I first heard of energy medicine, I laughed. And then because I was 20 and not world-weary or cynical yet, I saw an energy practitioner in a small office in Santa Monica. I can’t believe I’ve never told this story. In a one hour session she basically did a head to toe rundown of what she could “feel” and she was startlingly on point. She was also a “Psychic Healer” (OMG you guys, I just cringed writing that) and I didn’t buy it AT ALL until right toward the end of my appointment when she said she had a message from my dad, and then proceeded to rattle off an inside joke that he and shared. Energy Medicine Believer over here ever since.

Major Takeaways

Caroline Myss has a less mystical, more practical approach to energy medicine, but this book really clearly outlines how the energy centers of our bodies (chakras) can be in or out of balance. I think that is something all of us feel on a regular basis whether we are attuned to it or not, and this book gives you a roadmap of how to tune into that, and what some of the consequences are if you don’t in a really easily digestible and non “Out There” kind of tone and format. There is even a guide in the middle of the book about symptoms and what energy centers they tie back to. I have found it to be 100% accurate. It was a game changer for how I approached what ailed.


lights out4. Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival by T.S. Wiley

Book Jacket Line That Drew Me In:

When we don’t get enough sleep in sync with seasonal light exposure, we fundamentally alter a balance of nature that has been programmed into our physiology since Day One. This delicate biological rhythm rules the hormones and neurotransmitters that determine appetite, fertility, and mental and physical health.

When I Read This

After a long discussion with my Naturopath where he said to me “If you don’t learn to sleep, it WILL kill you.” YIKES. I’ve written before about my experience with a Naturopath and how, most notably, that led me toward a Paleo approach and to losing 100 lbs, but probably the most influential thing he did for me and my health was to help me understand how sleep affects your body, physiologically.

Major Takeaways

Sleep isn’t just a nice to have. It is actually the foundation of hormone health, mental health and muscle recovery — and if you don’t have those things — well, ya don’t have much! And when it doesn’t come naturally or if you a person who just “doesn’t need a lot of sleep” that is your body waving A GIANT RED FLAG. Sometimes sleep takes effort, and it behooves you to put in the work.


it starts with food5. It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig

Book Jacket Line That Drew Me In:

It Starts With Food shows you how certain foods may be having negative effects on how you look, feel and live – in ways that you’d never associate with your diet.

When I Read This

Right when it came out, obviously. :) But most notably, after I did my first Whole 30

Major Takeaways

I think when you are a person who has struggled with health and weight and all things related, it can be really confusing to know what to do or where to turn. What I love about this book is that it gives you the tools to understand YOUR body. It is easy to understand science, and very basic facts about the human body. Unfortunately it is the kind of basic facts that most people never learn, and so when it comes time to troubleshoot it is very easy to get going down a dirt road that isn’t going to take you anywhere. This, again, is a book I wish I would have read in my 20s. But I’m so glad I’ve read it now. It’s not condescending, it doesn’t tell you what you NEED to do, it just arms you with information about the human body. After that, you are left to connect the dots about your own health.


hormone cure6. The Hormone Cure by Sara Gottfried

Book Jacket Line That Drew Me In:

All too often women are told that feeling moody, asexual, tapped out, dried up, stressed out, and sleep deprived is just a part of being female.

When I Read This

Earlier this year when I was really struggling to manage my stress. After hearing the author on The Balanced Bites podcast I basically had an instant girl crush. I felt like she was talking DIRECTLY TO ME.

Major Takeaways

All roads lead back to cortisol. Ha! Well, not exactly, but this book outlines the delicate hormone balances and imbalances that cause common “Female Symptoms” that sometimes just get brushed under the table and considered part of being a woman. I really appreciated the depth of information she provided and the wonderful advice about where to start to help get yourself back to vital again. She makes a very complex topic easy to understand, and gives a voice to something that I personally think is sort of marginalized in the realm of health care. Her advice is actionable from the moment that you put the book down and I LOVED THAT.


how to eat7. How to Eat, Move + Be Healthy by Paul Chek

Book Jacket Line That Drew Me In:

The way we respond to food, exercise and stress varies person-to-person just as much as our fingerprints. This book will identify YOUR individual needs and teach you how to address issues that may be preventing you from looking and feeling your best.

When I Read This

About 6 months ago after hearing the wildly popular Paul Chek on the Underground Wellness Podcast while I was digging through the archives. Holy Moses is he an entertaining wild card of a character. He’s so passionate I would probably buy anything he sells, but man is he sort of uncensored!

Major Takeaways

There is not a singular blueprint for wellness, and actually different people have different dietary and exercise needs (the book has a GREAT thorough quiz in it that help you determine what your needs are.) But there are some smart strategies that all people can benefit from, and if you are a person concerned with your own health, you really MUST at the very least have a strategy. I like Paul Chek’s zeal and his Live Your Life On Purpose kind of attitude. He is also just a phenomenal wealth of information and this book is so densely packed I imagine I will use it over and over in the years to come.


simple abundance8. Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort + Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach

Book Jacket Line That Drew Me In:

In the past a woman’s spirituality has been separated from her lifestyle. Simple Abundance shows you how your daily life can be an expression of your authentic self … as you choose the tastiest vegetables from your garden, search for treasures at flea markets, establish a sacred space in your home for meditation, and follow the rhythm of the seasons and the year.

When I Read This

When I was 19, living at home and really kind of depressed.

Major Takeaways

The most valuable lesson that this book, a daily meditation on gratitude, taught me was that we are all standing knee deep in water dying of thirst. Sometimes you have to look up or down to find joy, but it is always there. I have found that the purposeful ability to cultivate gratitude in my life has been a key part of my own resilience as I’ve gotten older. I’m not sure I have ever learned a more value life lesson or one that has impacted my overall health so dramatically.


They aren’t all Paleo-centric and some of them won’t even tell you, specifically, what you should be doing to “Get Healthy.” But I promise you this, every single book above is filled with infinite wisdom. And if you are in the market for some, I’d highly recommend you get reading! :)

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7 comments to 8 Books That Helped Me Take Charge of My Own Health

  • Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie
    September 25, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Lights Out and It Starts With Food are great – Adding the rest of these health & nutrition goodies to my Amazin basket! :)

  • Steph
    September 25, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Thanks for this! I am excited to look into some if these books. :)

  • Rose-Anne
    September 25, 2013 at 10:12 am

    A wonderful post, Holly. I love that you included #8–there’s no greater manifestation of spirituality than to live every day with intention.

  • Susannah
    September 26, 2013 at 3:18 am

    Thanks for writing this post, Holly. One of the many things I love about your blog is the variety – I never know what I’ll find when I pop over here and I am never disappointed!

  • Zebbie
    September 26, 2013 at 3:43 am

    This is exactly what I needed to kick-start my October 1st health plan. I’m hoping I can get most of these as audiobooks so I can listen on my daily commute.

  • Lauren
    September 26, 2013 at 11:26 am

    What a great list! I have admittedly only read one of these books but i’m popping over to Amazon to order two of these. I love your blog and how real you are. You have been a great inspiration and “mentor” as I start my own journey to health and paleo. Now I’m off to look for your naturopath post!

    PS – your new Fall duvet is gorgeous!!

  • Maxmill
    September 28, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    My library had LIGHTS OUT, loving it. Thanks





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